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Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s statue is one of several Confederate memorials on Monument Avenue in Richmond. A city commission is exploring how to reinterpret the monuments.

Beginning Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s Monument Avenue Commission will participate in a series of small group meetings to gather feedback on the future of the city’s Confederate iconography.

The first of five meetings scheduled so far will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Historic Richmond Foundation, 4 E. Main St.

“We are looking forward to hearing what community members from across the spectrum have to share,” said Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Center and co-chair of the commission.

In November, the commission announced it would hold a series of small group meetings between January and April. At least one commission member will attend each meeting and will document the proceedings. Their takeaways will be posted on the commission’s website afterward, Coleman said.

Commission members favored the small-group setting over the town-hall style forum they held last August, saying it would be a more effective way to discuss a divisive issue.

The August event saw more than 500 people show up. Tempers flared as organizers struggled to keep the dialogue civil and focused on the commission’s task of reinterpretation.

Stoney formed the 10-person panel of academics, historians and members of the council and the community last July. He charged it with recommending how the city could “add context” to the statues lining Monument Avenue, an approach the mayor said at the time was preferable to removing or relocating the monuments.

After a woman was killed and dozens more were injured in the aftermath of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Stoney expanded the commission’s charge to include a consideration of removal or relocation of the statues.

Since its November work session, the commission has continued accepting input through the mail and on its website, where it is cataloguing the responses.

The commission will field requests through March from organizations that would like to meet with its members, Coleman said. It also will hold a large, town hall style meeting in April where its members will report findings from the small group meetings. It will issue a final report with its recommendations to Stoney and the council in May.

The meetings scheduled to date are:

Feb. 21, 7 p.m.: Historic Richmond Foundation, 4 E. Main St.

March 2, 7 p.m.: Richmond Peace Education Center, 3500 Patterson Ave.

March 5, 7 p.m.: Monument Avenue Preservation Society, location to be determined

March 22, 7 p.m.: Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, 1000 Blanton Ave.

March 27, 3:30 p.m.: Leadership Metro Richmond, 9211 Forest Hill Ave., Suite 200-A

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mrobinson@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6734

Twitter: @__MarkRobinson

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